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Welcome!

You’ve landed on the current home of http://www.lilykmorris.com. This is a blog that I started about 10 years ago, and I haven’t posted much recently, but the content here is relevant to the work that I am doing now. As a wellbeing artist, I offer facilitation for those on a healing journey.

If you are interested in knowing more about what it would look like to work together, please feel free to send me an email to lilykmorris @ gmail.com.

You can also find me on telegram where I am just starting a channel to share thoughts and resources: https://t.me/joinchat/NN3UVVD87v4yMGIx

Thanks for visiting me. If you are looking for my photography, you can find my photo blog at www.fleurdelisstudios.com.

Cheers,

Lily 💙

a different path

My dad just gave me a book yesterday that appeared to be a guide to doing exactly what I had decided a few days ago that I am doing: taking a break from working, in order to get a “higher education” from the School of Life. And yet, after thumbing through Blake Boles’ book, Better Than College: How to Build a Successful Life Without a Four-Year Degree, I realized that his model for learning is fashioned using a strategy that I am still exploring alternatives to.

I realize that I am not, in fact, attending a zero-tuition-university, as he calls the process of acquiring a higher education for free, and in a self-directed manner. I’m doing something different. I am on a different path, a different journey. I’m questioning even more truths about how things work. When he talks about creating accountability, setting goals and making action plans, my gut says, “no thanks”; I get that feeling that I get when something is not for me.

This feeling is opposite from the one I get when I press play on the Antje Duvkot station on Pandora that plays artists like Patty Griffin, Deb Talan–singer-songwriters who have provided me with unparalleled support and inspiration in my life. It’s different from the feeling I get when I am typing away, inspired, on the notepad of my phone, or waltzing around my kitchen preparing a feast.

This feeling is, YES, this is RIGHT for me! Martha Beck calls it, “shackles off”. I remember when I first read her book, Steering by Starlight, and discovered the term. I had been exploring the world of living a self-directed life–a life that is organized around listening to the quiet whisperings of my heart. Yet I was still having difficulty actually hearing my heart. I could usually tell when things felt wrong, when they felt yucky and restrictive, and like a divergence from my right life, but I was still feeling around for what the magic opposite was. What did it feel like when my little life-ship was pointed towards her north star? And what was I supposed to do if I felt like I had lost my chart, and wasn’t even sure where my next destination was?

Since then, I have begun to expand upon this idea. I have gathered other sensations and indications for making sure I am on, or moving back towards the path of my right life. This exploration has been possibly the most useful course of study I have ever pursued. This isn’t covered in Blake’s book. Maybe it will be covered in mine.

Why, write, of course!

What to do, after reading a friend’s fabulously crafted blog posts and finding myself, simultaneously, utterly inspired and also fearful of being incurably incompetent?

Why, write, of course!

Do the thing I fear I cannot do.
Dive into a sea of the thing that I am afraid may some day no longer meet me
when I shed clothes, meet arms above my head, and launch myself
head first into the cold, clear deep blue-green.

Like the sea, though, words have been there
always.

Ever since my first phrase: “horsey eat apple”, I have been friendly with these things that can be spoken or penned, these morsels composed of meaning and letters or sounds, depending on my chosen expression.

Somehow, like the sea, words have always been there
for me.

At times a little chilly or rough.
at times, better to look from ashore, from a far, or just to wade
along the edge, or to poke in a toe, or trail a finger splashingly through.

Sometimes, though, what is called for is a
dive. in.
with reckless abandon. with no care for the slimy seaweed
or stinging sea-going jellies. no care for whether the cold will
shock my bones like an electric fence tested
with full bare hand on a cold, goat-feeding
morning adventure.

No matter.
No mistake.
I have not been mistook.
words are like water. they flow from me, like tears do
towards the sea.
when I am sad,
they
come.
when I am happy,
they come. The words, and the water.
That’s how I know I’m alive. And they flow,
and sometimes they come in gasps, or spurts, or little hiccuping sobs.
and other times their trill
from my pen is like the sweetest joyful giggle

I have ever sung.

Naughty leads to love.

In August, everyone seems to lose their minds. The vacationers leave their minds on the ferry, on the deck in between the uncomfortable aluminum seats or in the crack between the wall and the polyester covered cushions in the snack bar. The summer folk leave their minds in their mainland homes. And the islanders, they let their minds out for a refreshing bath in the ocean, where they are promptly swept away, tumbled into a heap with the eel grass that washes up on the sandy shore.

I held onto my mind this August, maybe a little too tightly. I think I squeezed it a little too hard, inspected it a little more closely than was comfortable. I didn’t lose it the way I usually do the in the summertime, with exhausted dreams of a wintertime of rest and quiet hibernation. Nope, this year I lost my mind the way that I used to lose my sunglasses on the top of my head…too close for me to see.

This spring I set off on an exploration and experiment to see what it would feel like if I slowed down and let the world come to me. With this new way of doing things, my life seems to have gotten very, very small. I feel as though I have been living inside a pressure cooker. Just my mind and me, crammed into a little island cottage. I haven’t had much else to look at, and I like looking at things closely, so my mind has been under 24-hour surveillance, and it’s starting to act the way any living thing might after such close observation…like a crazed monkey who wants to get out of her cage!

I am really good at talking myself into or out of anything. I can almost always see both sides to any story. In the Enneagram, a personality typing system with roots in a few different ancient traditions, I am a type nine, also known as the mediator or the peacemaker. Sometimes I take my peacemaking and powers of mediation a little too far, especially when it comes to conflict between my heart and my mind. And the rational human that I am, living in a time when rationality is celebrated, I often let my heart get talked over by my mind.

I live on a small island off an island, a forty-five minute ferry ride from the southern coast of Massachusetts. This is the place I grew up. I know its roads and woods and beaches by heart. I can walk them with my eyes closed. This can be extremely comforting. It can also feel too small. Too close. Too comforting. A couple of weeks ago, all of a sudden I heard what my heart had been telling me, without my mind having time to talk her out of it. I heard, “I NEED TO GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!”. And I felt it resonate through my being.

No, I didn’t need to MOVE, I just needed to MOVE! To go, to feel the wind in my hair, the road beneath my tires, unfamiliar sights before my eyes and new hearts for mine to connect with. I needed to go, without a plan, wherever my car took me. I threw a bunch of stuff I might need in the car, realizing as I did so with only a plan to head “up island” for the day (not off-island) that I was probably practicing for a bigger trip.

I spent that day following my heart. I heard that she wanted to see this friend who I hadn’t visited all summer, and bike on this beautiful road, and go out and treat herself to dinner in celebration of a successful event I had co-catered a few weeks before. I finally heard my heart telling me that she needed to GO AWAY. To get out of the pressure cooker and find a little freedom.

It took me at least a week to get all my ducks in a row, to clean the house, to make apple sauce and apple pie, to make sure there was someone to feed my goat, and make sure the garden would take care of itself.  One of the ducks that I hadn’t even considered was this idea of MY HOME.  Who was going to take care of my home while I was away?  I realized that for me, my house is like a partner or a best friend.  It’s where I spend a good portion of my time, and we have a relationship.  Last winter, the last time I left the island for more than a day, a blizzard had come, and the door to the house where I was living had blown open.  It had taken me until now to see that part of my hesitancy to leave the island, to get away, was a fear of leaving my home un-protected.  It felt good to notice this, to see that I feel protective of my home.  And then it felt good to let that fear go, to double-check that all the doors were shut tightly and wouldn’t blow open, and to finally, finally, finally, pull my subaru into the stand-by line for the big ferry to Woods Hole.  It was 6PM.  I didn’t know if I would get off the island before the last boat at 9:30, and I had no plan for what I would do once I got to the other side.

There is an amazing freedom in trusting the universe with my life.  One that I think cannot be found in any other way than surrendering to the flow of what wants to happen.  And sometimes in order to be able to hear that call, and get in that flow, it is necessary to do what feels naughty, irresponsible, and completely senselessly irrational to our minds.

There is a list on my fridge that I wrote this winter.  It is a list I made to keep me on track towards my right life.  Near the end of the list is this:  “Naughty leads to play, play leads to love.”  Sometimes when I feel like I have lost the path of love in my life, my first step is to figure out, and DO, what feels downright naughty.

The Year of the Nap.

December 27th, 2012

Hello All,

I hear-by dub 2012 as “the year of the nap”.  Oh what wonderful times I have spent this year, laying on my back with a bolster under my knees, an eye pillow relaxing my peepers, and a warm and cozy blanket tucked around me–in pursuit of the perfect nap.  It’s been a good year, and all the more so for having such fabulous clients and friends and family like you.  I have learned so much this year, and I know that you all were an absolutely essential component.  Each relationship in my life, each interaction with another, each connection with a fellow human being gives me the opportunity for growth and expansion, and for this I am so appreciative.  I think it was June the last time I wrote, and I was soon to turn 30.  My fantastic and joyful birthday celebration came and went, and I have realized that perhaps life really only gets going at 30.

In addition to the pursuit of the perfect nap (my mom now calls me the “napping queen”), the second half of 2012, for me, has been about finding balance.  For the first time in my adult life, I really relaxed into the experience of summer on the Vineyard.  I frequented more beaches, took more swims, cooked more yummy food than I can recall having done before.  Don’t get me wrong, there were still a few insane stretches of working long days back to back, but what really showed me that I had changed my ways was that I arrived at the end of August feeling fabulous.  Instead of a wrung-out wash cloth, I felt alive and vibrant and thriving.  After spending so many years working as hard as possible to squeeze the most money as possible from the three months of summer, I changed tactics a bit.  Joy was my goal for the summer of 2012, and I got me some for sure!

My dad recently brought home a book from the library called How Will You Measure Your Life?  This question has been on my mind a whole lot lately.  Two years ago, after being ill for a couple of months, it came to me that perhaps there were other ways to measure success besides my productivity level.  I had just spent hours and hours on the couch or in bed with very little energy for accomplishing any task, and then it came to me–what if I were to measure my success, not by how much I got done each day, but by the amount of joy I cultivated and experienced.  I saw people around me in the world working very hard and experiencing little joy, and I also saw the opposite: folks who didn’t seem to be accomplishing much, yet appeared supremely joyful.  What if, I thought, the secret to a successful life was not, in fact, about how much I got done each day, but rather about how happy I was at the end of the day?  This felt like an interesting idea to explore, and now a few years later, I find myself becoming more and more sure that measuring my life by the amount of joy I  cultivate each day is the way to go–immensely satisfying and a whole lot more fun!

At the beginning of 2012, I read a book called Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, by Martha Beck.   In this book I was introduced to another outlandish idea–the possibility that a really effective and successful way to do life, especially in a life where I am choosing to measure success in increments of joy, is to play until I feel like resting, and then rest until I fee like playing.  This suggestion was something that I was already sort of exploring, but to have America’s favorite life coach tell me that it really works sort of sealed the deal for me.  I discovered, though, that I must have done a whole lot of playing so far in my life, because for a bunch of months, it felt like all I wanted to do was rest.  And in our culture obsessed with action and results and productivity, allowing oneself to do a whole lot of resting can be really a challenge.  I persevered, though, and as I mentioned earlier, I have become an avid napper.  Still an amateur (“lover of”) at this point, but who knows what lies ahead.

Speaking of what lies ahead, and not knowing about it, here are a few things that lie (lay?) behind me, from the year of 2012:

January - Chillin' at the shack...workin to stay warm!

January: I started the year off by myself, staying warm and cozy in “the shack”, belonging to dear friends, Myles and Laura and baby Armen (not so much of a baby anymore – tonight he was turning the lights on and off and showing me his toy trucks).  A week later I moved into my home for the winter, another cozy casa belonging to oldest friend Nisa and her family (Tim, Casey, Theo and Kyla Rose–who was still hanging out “in-belly” til June) while they spent some QT on the beach in Hawaii.  This month was an awesome time of reflection, healing, connection and exploration.  I took daily walks on the beach at Great Rock Bight, and experienced having a home of my own for really the first time ever.  It is divine, that own-home-having experience. (I look forward to it again sometime soon!)

February - a REAL vacation in Florida with family.

February: I found myself in sunny but rather chilly Florida, spending a restful, pleasant week with the Knight family–my mom’s brothers and sisters and their families. It felt like possibly the first “real” vacation I have ever had…no connecting flights, no big back-pack, no roughing it.  So fun and fabulous.  I also attended the Millionaire Mind Intensive, spending a weekend in a hotel outside of Boston, beginning to transform my relationship with money and wealth.  Hmmm.  Oh, and I decided not to move back to Portland, ME during one of my beach walks.  All of a sudden it hit me, THIS IS MY HOME ( Martha’s Vineyard); this is where I belong.  It felt wonderful to get clear about that.  To finally really choose this island as the place where I want to establish my life.

March - a visit to Arizona, massage school stomping grounds

March: I found myself a next sweet spot to call home, a wee apartment in a beautiful home in downtown Vineyard Haven.  The kitchen was the size of a postage stamp, but it had lots of light and a wonderful claw foot tub, and it would be mine-all-mine.  I had a week-long adventure out to Arizona where I visited with old friends, and attended an amazing craniosacral and polarity therapy workshop.  I also had a massage from a current student at my massage school – it was almost five years to the day from when I graduated.  The end of the month was all about moving – fitting myself into a new tiny apartment and back into my storage locker.  It took me awhile to figure out what would fit in my apartment, and there was a bit more carrying of boxes up and down the stairs then I think my landlords expected.

April - the magical beach at Great Rock Bite

April: More moving, and some more great walks at Great Rock Bight.  There is something entirely magical about that place.  I think I may have also graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition at the end of April–slightly anti-climactic, but fun to be a certified health coach! I started working with a few coaching clients, held a couple of “Sugar Blues” workshops and launched my practice as BodySong Wellness. I wonder what else happened that month…  Probably a whole bunch more carrying stuff back down the stairs that wouldn’t fit in my apartment.

May - Mabel is just getting in from an exciting sail

May: The month started off joyfully when dear friend, sailing buddy, mother of my god daughter and roommate from Portland, Charity, gave birth to a beautiful baby boy–Quinn.  It was such fun to see my five year old goddaughter, Stella, get to take on the role of big sister!  When I got back from visiting the new babe, I completed a splicing job for an interior decorator friend and installed a lovely rope handrail for a stairway in her client’s home.  This was the kind of job that sounds like the possibility for a new business venture– “yeah, I know how to do that. Sure, that would be fun”–and instead made it clear to me that I do NOT, in fact, need another business venture; I have my hands quite full already.  The end of the month found me sailing as captain of the 28′ Noman’s Land boat, Mabel, for the seventh annual Vineyard Vision Fellow’s orientation – an exciting sail from Vineyard Haven to Cape Pogue, arriving by moonlight, and a similarly exciting sail home with quite a bit of wind and fog to start, but some really fabulous sailing over all.

June - reflections at Cedar Tree Neck Sanctuary

June:  June began with a lovely walk at Cedar Tree Neck, a sanctuary I used to frequent as a child, but haven’t been to lately.  What an amazingly beautiful Island I live on!  I spent a bunch of the month preparing to turn 30, and then at the end of the month I did just that!  I had a wonderful week of celebrations, made even more special by the arrival of friend Nisa’s third child, the affore-mentioned Kyla Rose, born on June 25th, just two days before I turned 30!  It was definitely one of my best birthdays, and I was thrilled to have some dear friends from off the island come visit and join in the festivities.  There was lots of dancing, good food cooking and eating, swimming and even a little sailing in the mix.  I also started bartering with a new farmer friend, and began receiving weekly bags of fresh, delicious, beautiful veggies, and she got massage for her hard-working body.  What a fabulous trade!

July - Mabel with a shiny new coat of paint

July: A busy month! Summer on the Vineyard had begun with massage therapy in full swing. I also had the pleasure of attending weddings of a couple of dear friends, AND my family and I took on the delightfully tiring task of giving Ms. Mabel a new coat of paint.  She turned 10 years old this year, and I wanted to give her the gift of a beautiful new birthday suit.  “Haul out” as it’s often called in the boat business is one of those times when self-care and common sense sort of get thrown out the window; with an eye on the ticking clock, a hand on a paint brush, and the “splash” date imminent, it is a race for sure.  Mabel, built by my friend Myles when he was 19, has been like a sister to me in some ways (the “brain child” of my dad, built for the non-profit Vineyard Voyagers, to give island kids an opportunity to have significant encounters with the sea).  I feel a very close connection with this dear boat, and often wish I had more time and attention to devote to her care, operation and promotion.  Maybe someday this will shift, and in the meantime, I gaze at her with love and admiration each time I pass her by.

August - a summer of beautiful bountiful food

August: The bounty of good food was overflowing!!!  We had a fun visit from my Swiss cousin and her boyfriend, and got to share a few meals around the table on the back porch – one of my absolute favorite parts of summer. It was another full summer month, but with some great adventuring off the island.  I spent a few days in Provincetown by myself, and then joined my parents and brother to head up to Barnard, Vermont to visit with family from my dad’s side.  It was so wonderful to spend time with all those cousins, many of whom live in California and we don’t often get to see.  On my return to the Island, I decided to re-commit to my self-care, and for a couple of weeks, I received massage and other bodywork as often as possible.  This was an amazing gift to give myself, and left me feeling nourished and balanced and healthy.  I attended the Oak Bluffs fireworks for the first time in a bunch of years and had a blast dancing to big band music on the grass afterwards.  Dancing was a somewhat sporadic and absolutely essential part of summer…

September - double rainbow over Vineyard Sound

September: The month of the infamous double rainbow, and my last month of downtown living…. It was such a gift to spend the summer living TWO BLOCKS from my office.  To be able to jaunt home for lunch or a quick snooze.  And at the same time, I am a country girl at heart, and living in the “big city” (of Vineyard Haven) just wasn’t for me.  September was gorgeous month.  I had lovely meals on my stately porch, and that was also where I read a small book on photography that I picked up at the library. It inspired me to put some time and attention back on this art form that I love so much.  I finally acknowledged that I have dreams of showing my photos, not just on the note cards that I sell, but in large format, where they can really express themselves.  I took the first step in that direction and ordered a number of enlarged prints of my photos.  When they arrived, I felt almost giddy; finally I had taken the first step towards my dream of sharing my photography with the world.  At the end of the month, I packed up and moved out of my apartment, attended my dear friend Amanda’s wedding (I had the special privilege of living with her and her fiancé last summer, and I’m pretty sure they are gonna live happily ever after) and once again moved my stuff into storage.

October - ready to roll...on up to Cananda

October:  ROAD TRIP! It took me about five days  of laying around at my family’s house on chappy to recover from my very full week of moving, etc. and finally I was packed and ready to go… to CANADA!  I had always wanted to visit Cape Breton, and it turned out that my Aunt Ginio was going to be staying up there for a few month.  I was really feeling the need to get off the island of MV, so I headed north…  Nova Scotia is one of my favorite places and it had been awhile since I’d been there.  I spent a fun week in Cape Breton, visiting with Ginio and being introduced to everyone in the small town where she was staying.  Then I drove across to the other side of Cape Breton and spent a couple of nights with an old friend of my dad’s from one of his sailing adventures–even got to ride a norwegian fjord pony bareback and remembered why I used to love riding horses so much.  I headed south through the lower part of Nova Scotia, visiting sailing buddy Steve MacKay in Halifax, and then meeting (finally) and staying with his mom before taking the ferry across the Bay of Fundy, and heading south back down through Maine.  Stopped in Brooklin, ME and spent a few magical days at friends Nat and Pam Benjamin’s cabin…magical even after I ran over a nail and ruined my tire and had to organize getting a whole new set of tires.  NOTE to all-wheel-drive car owners:  In order not to ruin your car, you must replace all four tires at once – OUCH.  In the process of figuring this out, I stopped at the local winter farmers market and happened to connect with the sister of a friend from the island who invited me to come and stay with her and family at their home on Deer Isle for the night.  What a generous offer, and a beautiful surprise connection.  There is definitely something magic about Maine!  After a fun visit in Portland, and a spontaneous boating adventure in Amesbury, MA, I finally made it home to MV!

November - making food with veggies from the garden

November:  I left for my road trip thinking, “there is no WAY I could live with my parents!”, and when I got home, I realized it was the only place I could imagine living.  My desire for a home, a real home of my own has gotten rather strong this year, and this house on chappy where I grew up is one place that really feels like home for me.  I love it here.  I love my huge room with lots of windows that looks out over the garden, through the sassafras threes to the swamp.  I love being able to pick kale and spinach fresh from the greenhouse for a morning smoothie.  I don’t always love the goat girls when they are moaning about being in heat, but I do love having them and the chickens around.  So, here I am.  Back where I began.  It is fun living with my family now that we are all “grown up”.  It is an amazing gift to have a bit of financial pressure lifted by sharing this home, and being able to spend more time exploring how I want to be showing up in the world.  My massage practice feels healthy and strong  and I am enjoying that work. I haven’t had a super busy schedule, so I have had time to play with my photos and explore that avenue as a business venture.  I have settled on the name, Fleur de Lis Studios, for my artistic endeavors and have really been having a blast experimenting with how my photos want to show up in the world.  With my light massage schedule, I was able to convert my office into a temporary studio/gallery and it has been a new adventure to have a place to share my photographs.

December - images from my Martha's Vineayard Calendar for 2013

December: After much back and forth, I finally settled on a collection of MV images for next year’s calendar, and it has been a fun way to be able to share my work with people.  I participated in a Ladies’ Trunk Show with some other entrepreneurs and found it to be a good way to let people know that I am a photographer, and at the same time, not the venue that I feel most comfortable in.  I tried out a different venue, and found that I felt more at home sharing my work at the LovingKindness Holiday Show at my friend Patricia’s home.  She cooks food for Hospice families, and this December she invited a group of island artisans and craftspeople to show and sell their work at her home, with a portion of the proceeds going to fund her Hospice cooking ventures.  What a wonderful thing to be a part of.  I set out to go gift shopping a few days before Christmas, and I found that her show was really the only place I wanted to show my appreciation for goods (in the form of money :-).  Christmas has come and gone, now, and I got to spend a lovely, mellow day with my family.  It is such a joy to have finally reached a part of my family’s evolution where holidays are actually pleasant instead of the traumatic roller-coaster ride of emotions that they were previously.  Thank goodness for the passage of time.  It is so much fun to be living over here on Chappy, taking photos, cooking yummy food, spending time with family, and wondering if the ferry will be running.  I am excited to have a fresh crop of twenty-somethings here on the wee island, with new friends at the Slip Away farm just a walk through the woods, and I look forward to connecting with this community again.

As I look ahead to the quickly approaching new year, I feel excited about what is yet to come.  I am realizing that the usefulness of making plans these days is not so great, and I am thrilled, most of the time, to just let life roll on in–breakers crashing over me with joy and sorrow and the glorious experience of life.  I am finally getting clear that this journey called life is probably not something that I will ever figure out.  I will never learn how to “do it right”, and I could waste my time and die trying… So, instead, I will do my best to take each day as it comes, feeling around for the things I have yet to experience, and not letting myself get too down when I forget that it’s just a game, and I find myself crying over spilled milk. (Am I having deja vu, or did I write that line in some previous holiday letter?)  I love taking this time to sit down and share about the past year, imagining all of you wonderful people out there who I know, but don’t often connect with. What are you up to??  Wherever you are, I wish for you the experience of peace, freedom and joy in 2013.

In love,

Lily

www.lilykmorris.com  ~  www.fleur-de-lis-studios.com

Finally, I Am Me

This women’s story is so inspiring. I have been playing around with my diet for so long, and the primal way of eating is the way I have found that makes me feel my best. I have just been on the road for the last couple of weeks, eating whatever I can find…including grains and sugar. I have gained weight, feel sluggish and brain foggy, have developed acne again and my digestion is not happy. I am SO excited to get home and shift my diet back to eating foods that make me feel like me (I guess I could start today :-))! And I found a juicer at the salvation army…looking forward to trying it out. Watch out veggies, here I come! Sorry, grains and sugar, you and I just do not jive! Check out the link below for Nikki’s story at http://www.marksdailyapple.com, one of the “Friday success stories” submitted by his readers.

Finally, I Am Me.

Prologue: A joy retreat

I wrote this in January of 2012 in a different format and I am adding it here so it is a part of this collection.

“Congratulations, you’ve won!”, said a voice from my computer, taking both my client and me very much by surprise. It was half way through the session, I was working on her feet, and we were both feeling calm and soothed by pretty piano music. From the corner of the room a man’s cheerful voice announced, “Congratulations, You’ve won!”. That was all he said. She burst out laughing, and I was so relieved by her reaction, feeling somewhat mortified that I had let something like that happen in her session.  Then we both thought about it a little bit and decided that was one of the coolest things that could have happened. But what does it mean, “I’ve won.”?

I think for me it means I have found “love and happiness” like what’s his name sings about.  The real thing.  I don’t even know where to begin.  It started longer ago, but everything really solidified during my retreat last week.  In the end of 2011, as I was looking forward to a winter of hibernating, playing, making art, resting, etc.  I reflected on previous years where I had also had that intention, and noticed that they had not often gone the way that I had planned.  This thing would come up, or that thing, and I would never actually get around to the art or the reading or writing, or whatever, so I decided to schedule it all in – for the whole winter, and then I would know there was time set aside for this or that hibernation endeavor.  The only reason it really worked and didn’t make me feel too claustrophobic, or hemmed in was that I have learned that plans are made in order to have something to work towards, but that they are made to be bendable and broken, re-shaped and re-directed.  I also decided I might as well schedule in a week long retreat while the winter was wide open, or better yet, make it two!  So I did.  And last week was the first one, and it was the most amazing week of my life, so far.  Here are a few of the things that I wrote to people about how I spent my days, and specifically about the book I have been reading that made it such an amazing time:

“It (the book) has turned my life right-side-up in the last week.  In a way it is similar to the experience I had at Landmark Education, but with a lot more velocity, less stress, effort, righteousness and inadvertent pressure.  This book is all about rest, play, and finding Joy, and the “technologies of magic” to use along the way.  It is called Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, by Martha Beck, and I suggest that you order it from Amazon as soon as you possibly can.  You might as well get two copies, cause you are going to want all of your friends to read it, but you aren’t going to want to give up your copy.”

“I started (writing) my book today, totally shackles off.  In fact, fingers with wings.”

” It (the book, Wild New World) had me laughing out loud, and often.  In the last week I have become one of those people who will randomly burst out in debilitating laughter, at myself, or just for the fun of it.  I have also had another insane round of body un-winding that has left me with no current aches and pains, and jaw and cranial bones that are still trying to set themselves straight.  I’ve been going on two-hour long adventure walks in my new Vibram shoes, and have started writing three different books.  I have also done a whole lot of reading, making sauerkraut, going through my stuff and throwing out junk, writing letters, and dancing around the house.  The wood stove and I have become pretty good friends, and this morning a young deer and I had a staring contest. ”

I think the coolest thing about the retreat was that it wasn’t a meditation retreat, or a silent retreat, or a writing retreat, or a work retreat – it was a joy retreat.  It was about finding the things that made me feel joyful. It was about resting and playing and resting and playing and continuing to repeat the cycle until…well, I hope I never stop.  For the first time in a long time, if not never before, I went at my life full speed ahead.  I didn’t have to put the breaks on… I just went for it.  The feeling is almost indescribable and so different from the way I had been living life for most of my life.  Finally in the last year or so, I had been able to identify the feeling, and noticed how much energy it seemed to be burning, like driving your car around with the emergency brake already on – in case there was an emergency and you needed to stop suddenly.  It reminds me of a metaphor that one of my teachers at IIN shared about how treating disease that has already wreaked havoc on the body is sort of like beginning to dig a well once you are already thirsty.  Well, this scenario is the opposite.  It is like spending all day, every day, digging wells wherever you are in case at some point you get thirsty.  There is not much time or energy to do anything else. It is obviously an insane way to drive, much less live life, and I was beginning to feel similarly insane by living my life in that way.

I have found a way to release the brakes, and am now flying through the air, balancing on the wings of love and joy, and have even been able to remember to breathe and open my eyes wide enough to see the view from up here.  It is indescribable.  As in, regular words can’t be used to describe the way it feels to break free from the bonds of “should” and “have to” and soar around on the wings of “play”, “rest”, “freedom” and “love”.  Care to join me?